Lessons Taught and Learned
For Amanda Akdemir, her personal mission has always been clear: make a difference in the lives of others. Throughout her time at the Pace University School of Education, she has found new and exciting ways to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Akdemir transferred to Pace after completing an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Rockland Community College. After taking a few education courses there, she was hooked. “I applied to Pace University because I was advised that the School of Education was fabulous and had a great relationship with RCC and that my credits would transfer over very smoothly,” she says. “I can say with great confidence that I am happy I made the decision to come to Pace.”
Akdemir is a candidate in our five-year combined degree program, set to graduate in May 2013 with a BA in Childhood education and an MS in Educational Technology. She is the Vice President of Pi Lambda Theta, an education honor society and professional organization.
One of the key highlights, she says, was getting into local schools so early in the program. “It allowed for me not only to create relationships amongst districts and their communities, but also to gain such a vast range of insights that I have been able to build upon through my courses and experience,” Akdemir says.
Akdemir is currently a student intern and substitute teacher in a unique school environment, the Mount Pleasant Blythedale School District, a K-12 school for children with special medical needs at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla New York. “It has given me a good handle on several different situations from both the elementary and secondary standpoints,” she says.
Akdemir has previously student-taught classes in the second and fourth grades in another Westchester district. “I love being in the classroom and it is absolutely true that this is where most of your learning takes place,” she says.
As part of her Educational Technology degree program, she has engaged in a wide variety of projects, including website development, applying for technology grants, and implementing the broad use of an interactive multimedia iPad app for Blythedale’s special needs students, along with professional development for faculty. Her experience is one that has definitely opened her eyes to the biggest challenge in education—meeting the needs of all students.
“Especially in my current environment, simultaneously adapting to the needs of such diverse learners is definitely not an easy task,” she says. But, she continues, “I think that the greatest reward comes when those needs are met. The satisfaction that comes along [with that] is an unmatched feeling that makes every effort worthwhile.”
Akdemir has also had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children, internationally. She was one of six students who traveled to Guatemala for a week in February 2013 to present at the 9th International Literacy Conference in Guatemala City. In addition to scholarly pursuits, the students also visited three local schools to interact with teachers and students, and experienced day-to-day life in Central America. “It was an overall wonderful experience that I will cherish always,” she says. The trip, she adds, put a lot of things in perspective.
“There is so much that we take for granted here,” she says. “We are provided with more than we can imagine to make a difference in the lives of children, and we should be making use of every tool and opportunity we are given to the best of our ability.”
Read more SOE success stories on their website at www.pace.edu/soe.